Civil War database lists soldiers and sailors from isles
» Reviving history names
The African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, D.C., lists names of 209,145 African-American veterans engraved upon plaques. An enormous computer database was created to make the list. Called the "Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System," and administered by the National Park Service, the database includes the duty records of all Civil War veterans, white and "colored," and can be accessed at www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/index.html
Although most such veterans were black, dark-skinned soldiers and sailors from all over the world - including Hawaii - are included in the African-American memorial, as well as the white officers who commanded them, according to memorial officials.
A search of the Sailors database reveals several names from Hawaii. Prince Romerson, for example, hailed from "Nyhee, Sandwich Islands," a 23-year-old mulatto-complected barber who joined the Navy and served aboard the USS Wamsutta. Romerson later reappears in the Soldiers database, mustering out of the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry (Colored) in 1865 with the rank of sergeant.
Was Romerson Hawaiian? Unknown - although some Filipino historians claim he was Filipino. Many of the names were Anglicised upon enlistment, and the only clues are place of birth and color of complexion.
The word "kanaka" was widely used at the time as slang for people from Hawaii. A search turns up a Friday Kanaka in the 31st Colored Infantry and a Joseph Kanaka from "Otaheita" serving aboard the USS Hartford.
A cross-check of the names of those buried in the Grand Army of the Republic plot at Oahu Cemetery shows that a half-dozen are missing from the database.
The handful of Chinese soldiers in the Civil War seem to have been assigned to white regiments. Mexican-Americans served primarily with Confederate regiments.